“For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the LORD, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.” —Jeremiah 29:11
Decree Expelling Jews from Spain Goes into Effect, August 2, 1492
n 1492 Columbus sailed the ocean blue,” we learned in our earliest days in school. Leaving aside that the little rhyme to get children to remember the year Columbus “discovered America,” the doggerel now triggers the sensitive but ignorant imbeciles that consider “Admiral of the Ocean Sea,” Christopher Columbus, as the white supremacist perpetrator of a holocaust in the New World. It just so happens that another event, perhaps more important than the exploration of C. Columbus, took place the same year in the same country: the expulsion of the substantial Jewish population of Spain. The action created another Jewish diaspora that changed history.
The Grand Inquisitor Tomás de Torquemada offers to the Catholic Monarchs, Ferdinand and Isabella, the Edict of Expulsion of the Jews from Spain for their signatures, 1492
After the fall of the Roman Empire, Hispania (the Iberian Peninsula) was conquered by the Teutonic tribe known as the Visigoths, around A.D. 476. They adopted a form of Christianity and held political sway until they were in turn overrun by the Islamic Empire in North Africa in 711, who took advantage of the political unrest and divisions of the Spanish kingdom. The Muslims failed to conquer the Basques and held Galicia, the extreme northwest, for only twenty-eight years. The City of Granada, however, became an Islamic stronghold for 781 years. Throughout the Islamic Caliphate, Jews and Christians paid tributes and taxes to their Muslim overlords, and were, in turn, allowed to practice their faith.
The last Muslim king of Granada, Abu Abdullah Muhammad XII, hands over Granada, the last stronghold of Muslims in Andalusia, to the Catholic Monarchs Ferdinand II of Aragon and Isabella I of Castile
In the 12th and 13th Centuries the Roman Church countenanced within its pale certain anti-Jewish movements, passing laws restricting rights and looking the other way when persecutions arose. The 14th Century brought wars and the bubonic plague, spelling the end of relative tolerance of Jews by the Catholic Church. In the Kingdom of Navarre in 1321, Jews were massacred in two towns when the “Shepherd’s Crusade” crossed the Alps into Spain. In the 1340s, Jews were blamed for the Black Death, and were massacred in Barcelona and Catalonia. On several other occasions in the century, synagogues were burned and Jews cut down in other cities in Spain, sometimes as a result of “political and economic unrest” sometimes as scapegoats for diseases or other social disruptions. The Talmud was outlawed, Jews were forced to attend Mass. Required conversions and baptisms characterized persecution in Castile and Aragon in the early 1400s. Throughout the century, “conversos” were looked upon with suspicion, since their conversions were coerced.
‘At the Feet of the Savior’ depicts a massacre of Jews in Toledo, Spain—one of many similar massacres during the Middle Ages